Hey, babe, I'm in a bad mood.
Been knocked around a bit too much lately.
Had my share of beat-downs.
I mean, really. Who the hell would think it was sensible to put curbings in
a bike path? Do they think we ride
ATVs to work? Some silly-billy is going to get his head stove in on those
sorts of cost shavings. Good thing I only fucked up one arm.
Last thing I wanna hear when I arrive at work is news that I've got a whole
new project to get done by tomorrow or so. Been taking a vacation from real
life for long enough with this sort of stuff, know what I mean?
So I head to my cubicle, and the person a couple cells down is havin' some
raucous conversation 'bout whatever. Sounds like fun, though. Which I ain't
And music reviewers, as Cyndi Lauper should've put it, can use some fun. Or
at least some freakin' P and Q, at least of the sort you can't get at the
ol' apartment complex homestead 'cause the neighbors are going at it like
cats and dogs and the cats are going at it like cats do on moonlit nights
and the dogs are howling accompaniment and the guy next door decides to
drown it all out by blowing his psychotherapy tapes at stadium volume.
So if you can't get a moment's peace, what are you gonna do? Play some
trip-hop dancebeat stuff that makes you wanna gaze at your shoes and
shuffle around or wave your hands in the air like you're drowning in smoke?
At the office, man, people have been fired for less. And don't mention
whale songs to me. Don't even think about mentioning it. I can read your
There's only one thing to do. Right. Spin up Mr. Portable CD Player with
"Millions Now Living Will Never Die" by Tortoise. The beauty of
echolocation and the tension of the real ocean feed right into your ears a
precisely-timed signal of unfathomable otherspace, where the worlds spin
rightly and there are no telephone calls to harsh your mellow.
Tortoise breaks ahead of the pack by not giving a freaking
flip about beats per minute. They count time the organic way -- with a real
drummer in a real room. When they bother to use percussion at all. They also
found the right middle ground between the lost-control high concept aimless
noodling of progressive rockinroll and the lost-in-white-light aimless noodling
of new-age whatever music. It's close enough to reality to engage you, far-out
enough to keep you wondering.
This stuff's oceanic in scope. Did I say that? It ranges from far away
echoey corridor sounding stuff that you might want to hear if you were
underwater to Morricone-like guitar meditations on late nights of old.
The guys in the band aren't slouches, either, picked up from some of
Chicago's finest ensembles, such as Slint and Eleventh Dream Day. When they
wander, they wander with purpose.
Using instrumentation as diverse as white-noise static, marimbas, glass
jars, guitars, tape loops and cheesy old electric organs, along with yer
usual complement of guitar, bass, and hardly any drums, Tortoise makes
music relaxing without being complacent or ingratiating. I'd feel even
better about listening to this disk over and over if I could blow it on a
REAL STEREO in a dark room and no worries. But hey. The neighbor's gonna
retaliate if I do. He should get earplugs like I've got.